Nashville Storyteller Patrick Droney Is The Common Thread Between Blues, Folk and Pop  [Q&A]

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After growing up touring with historic artists like BB King and James Brown, it’s no wonder that blues and soul run through Patrick Droney’s veins, serving as the foundation for his gravitational sound. He attended the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU, where he received song placements on major network TV shows and was asked to rep legendary guitar manufacturer, Fender. 

Droney has continued honing in on his songwriting craft in the music city of Nashville, where his relatable marriage of soul, blues and pop led to signing with  with G-Major management alongside the likes of Thomas Rhett and Danielle Bradbery. His self-titled debut EP was released on Aug. 3, followed by sold out shows in Los Angeles, Nashville, and New York city – three cities that Droney has called home over the course of his musical trajectory.

We had the privilege of speaking with Patrick Droney following his LA show, where he shared more on his roots, the Nashville music scene, and how grateful he is to build organic connections with fans across the nation.

OTW: So you’re a New Jersey native living in Nashville. Tell us an honest account of living in the music city.

Droney: Coming from New York to LA to Nashville, all the different cities have different things to offer. I’d say moving to Nashville was a community that I was taken into, especially in songwriting and in the craft of songwriting. I think there are very few places that hold the tradition, and Nashville is still a place where, at the end of the day, it’s still about the song; it’s about the source content and I think that was the biggest positive about being there. Everyone is so talented, whether you’re a guitar player, you’re a singer, or a writer, it’s a humbling experience. I’ve learned to do the best that I can do in the space Nashville has given me, and I think that’s why it’s really worked for me in Nashville. I think the biggest takeaways are the community and being music centric. 

Los Angeles is entertainment centric, and New York is so many things, but Nashville is still a music city.

OTW: Do you feel limited in anyway? Do you feel like it’s still predominantly country or is that expanding?

Droney: I think it’s definitely expanding. I saw a lane for me when moving. I’m not country whatsoever. I come from soul, pop, blues, and I think it’s no longer a one genre place. There are so many people moving there and making new, somewhat genre-defying music. For me, Nashville is a place where I live and I think there’s a respect for Nashville, but by no means am I a Nashville-only artist. Sometimes it takes leaving a place, like LA, to come back and make it work for you. It’s inspiring to be the next wave in a town like Nashville.

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OTW: Why did you move to Nashville?

Droney: I started working & touring when I was 12. So many amazing things happened in that first chapter but I realized around 16 or 17 that I didn’t want to just be another blues guitar player; I didn’t want to be put in that box. I knew life had to happen. I moved to New York, I went to NYU, and life happened there. Then I got a deal that brought me to Los Angeles, and I spent three-and-a-half years here just honing my craft. When I got out of the deal I was in, all signs pointed to a fresh start in Nashville. 

I saw a lane and I made a move. My life has been a game of pivots.

It was 2 years ago, I put my head down, and it’s exactly where I wanted to end up. This is such a hard industry, but if you have the right intentions and you follow your gut that’s what happens.

OTW: If you could sit in the room with any blues artist, alive or dead, who would it be?

Droney: I’d say it’d be Eric Clapton. He is a hero of mine because he was always able to stick to his true calling of blues guitar, but what a pop artist and songwriter he was as well. He was able to create a career that’s spanned so many different paths but always remained true to that blues thread. What I’m trying to do in my music is honor where I came from as a blues lover and guitar player, but I love pop music and I love making music that is reaching our generation; that’s my thread. Eric Clapton is someone I’d love to sit down with, both for inspiration and to learn how he achieved that balance. 

OTW: How were you drawn to that genre in the first place?

Droney: Blues and soul music were spoon-fed to me when I was a kid. Ray Charles’ records were constantly playing in the house, and I have always been drawn to the simplicity and raw emotion contained within those songs and the genre as a whole.

OTW: When you first tried to pursue it professionally, did it feel like it came naturally or did you feel like you had to work at songwriting and all of that?

Droney: Everything is work. Guitar playing has always been a very natural thing for me, I don’t remember not playing. But at a very young age I knew I didn’t want to be a sideman or just a guitar player, so I decided I better sing. The process of starting young, pre-voice change, and having to sing through those changes was definitely work. The hardest part about songwriting, coming from an early age, is you have to live to write. You have to experience things. You can make things up, but I’m at a point now where I’ve lived so much life in this time at 26, and I really have something to say with perspective and you can’t force that.

OTW: Obviously, you write from experience. Does it kind of strike you in the moment? Has there ever been a moment you’ve been inspired on the spot?

Droney:  There are some concepts, stories, or feelings that have stuck with me overtime that eventually find their way in to a song. Most of the time though, it feels like a lightning strike. For example, something as simple as the song “Always Been The End of the World” on my EP was inspired by a text conversation with a friend of mine right before I walked into a session. She was going through something and in the course of the conversation I said, “Don’t worry about it, it’s always been the end of the world.” I walked into the co-write and I was like, “Hey guys, I think we we should write this song.” It changes, but generally it’s kind of in the moment. It’s always a gift. It never feels like I deserve to have it.

I feel like songs are like fossils, and they’ve been around forever, and you just have to dust them off. 

OTW: Your most recent release Patrick Droney - EP, includes your first single “Stand and Deliver.” Tell us more about what that single has done for you.

Droney: “Stand and Deliver” was our first release off this EP so it was important we come out with something that really showcased my sweet spot as an artist and musician. It’s soulful and I’m honoring my guitar playing and I love seeing people really gravitate towards it. Seeing it hit top 10 on the viral charts was an unforgettable moment. The song itself is really about loss and being there for those experiencing loss. I wrote it after my really close family friends lost their dad, and I was trying to find a way to support them. It’s not surface and people are really connecting with the depth. Beyond that though, Stand is a song that people are reacting to live, even if they don’t know it or haven’t comprehended the lyric yet. You can feel the energy in the room when I hit that opening lick. It seems as though it has both pieces, the lyric and the music, and it’s been a really great pillar and precedent for what’s to come.

OTW: So you sold out your first headlining show in Nashville and LA. How does that feel?

Droney: We sold out Nashville, and we sold out LA, and we’re announcing New York today. It’s just such a cool feeling. When I played Nashville, we decided we’re going to play the Exit/In, a room with a capacity of 500+. It was the first time I was really hearing people sing my songs back to me. It was hard for me not to get emotional because I had such gratitude for them and that moment. Last night in LA, it was wild just to be present to see it translate in a different place, especially a place so impactful to my story. For me, playing live is the point, and it’s just encouraging that people are gravitating to the music. For everything I put out recording wise, I always put out a live counterpart to it because it’s such an important element for me to show, “Hey we’re playing this music and this is honest.”

I feel like it’s such a validation and at the same time it’s truly organic; there are no tricks happening.

OTW: So you’re a part of G Major Management. How has that been? Do you feel like you are following the same or similar trajectory to the other artists on the roster?

Droney: It’s brilliant. Virginia, my manager, and the team around her are so passionate about what I do and are driven and so smart and intentional and strategic, but it’s all based around who I am and my DNA. I’d say professionals want to copy and paste something that works; it’s just kind of a theme. When I met them, I mean Thomas [Rhett] is, I’d say, the biggest country male artist in the genre, and it’s easy to want to sign another artist who wants to do that exact same thing. But it’s been fun to watch them want to branch out, but like I said, a song is a song and it’s still music. Thomas and I are pals and we support each other; it’s like a big family, and Danielle Bradbery is incredible. We’re all really close. We haven’t made music yet, but it’s nice to see variety within a management context or a business context. It’s been really great, and I really believe you need to humanize this experience. The fact that you and I are talking and that you’re listening to me without me knowing who you are as a person, that’s what I want to do with my fans. 

The beauty of social media and today’s age is that you can actually connect if you’re honest about it and I’m trying to be as honest as I can with my fans. 

And that’s when it feels like people actually want to be apart of your journey. I try to respond to to everybody, and at some point it’s hard because then you set a precedent. It’s not a given you’re gonna get support from people, so if you’re taking the time, I want to say thank you.

OTW: What’s up next?

Droney: More music, a big week in New York. Right now, it’s just about establishing ourselves in the markets we’re in and going out and playing this music for them. Setting the precedent that this live show is something worth coming out to see. We’re at the start, but it feels like there’s such a strong foundation. So continuing sharing the story with everybody and hitting the road to play consistently is next!

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OTW: Who are your Ones to Watch?

Droney: There’s Dylan Owen. He’s a rapper in New York, and we went to NYU together. Brilliant poet, like he’s the poet of our time, in my opinion. He’s got an amazing grassroots DIY following, and he deserves to be on the map. Ruth Anne, she played with me at the show last night. She’s written hits for so many people, but she’s one of the most talented vocalists and songwriters I know. And then Leif Vollebekk, he’s based in Canada. He put out a record called Twin Solitude last year and that’s been my most played record of the year. I’m surrounded by many talented people and if I have the opportunity to shine light on them, I will.

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